Yes, You Can Spend Money While Still Working Toward Your Financial Goals—Here's How

In this week’s episode of Money Confidential, host Stefanie O’Connell Rodriguez helps an overspender balance her urge to splurge with her long-term financial goals.

Money Confidential 4 - Bola Sokuni headshot
Photo: Caroline Beffa Photography

On Real Simple's Money Confidential, host Stefanie O'Connell Rodriguez talks to real people (with fake names, to protect their identity) about their real-life money questions and concerns. With the help of a slate of experts, she offers practical tips about the practical and emotional aspects of managing money. On this week's episode, our guest is a self-described overspender who makes a good salary—but wants the financial foundation to leave her current job to follow her passion.

We'll call our guest Chloe. She's 28 years old, living in Massachusetts, and recently got married. Though she earns good money at her job, she's not passionate about her work, and she wants to leave her job and make her passion her focus. That kind of leap takes some savings, though, and Chloe has a two-fold problem. She'd never really had a savings account as an adult until after her recent marriage, when she realized she and her husband needed a place to save money for their shared goals. Chloe is also a chronic overspender: "As long as I've been making money, I've been spending it on clothes," she says.

Chloe uses shopping and spending as an emotional crutch, she says, and as a way to cheer herself up—particularly after the challenges of the last year. Her high spending makes it difficult for her to understand her own cost of living, she says, which makes it hard to budget and save money for future financial goals (including quitting her job).

To help Chloe manage her spending, O'Connell Rodriguez turns to Bola Sokunbi, a Certified Financial Education Instructor (CFEI) and founder of Clever Girl Finance, a financial education platform. Sokunbi is a former overspender herself. Her old vice? Luxury handbags.

Bola Sokunbi, CFEI

I always tell people, when it comes to spending and your finances, you need to give yourself grace. And you need to give yourself the opportunity to allow yourself to make progress.

— Bola Sokunbi, CFEI

Sokunbi got her own spending under control, and to help Chloe do the same, she suggests creating barriers to physically spending money, such as carrying a predetermined amount of cash and moving credit cards out of reach, among other tricks—but more importantly, she recommends creating a budget that allows for responsible spending.

"It's important to recognize that spending money is not bad," Sokunbi says.

Listen to this week's episode of Money Confidential—"My shopping addiction has ruined my savings. Help!"—for all of O'Connell Rodriguez and Sokunbi's tips for conquering overspending in favor of saving for a brighter financial future. Money Confidential is available on Apple podcasts, Amazon, Spotify, PlayerFM, Stitcher, or wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts.



Lori: Any time money comes in, I spend it almost immediately.

Samara: I'm really curious why you think that is, why I can't hold onto the money.

Charlotte: The idea of having budgets for things feels constricting.

Stefanie O'Connell Rodriguez: This is Money Confidential, a podcast from Real Simple about our money stories, struggles and secrets. I'm your host, Stefanie O'Connell Rodriguez. And today we're talking to a listener we're calling Chloe—not her real name.

Chloe: I'm 28 years old. I live in Massachusetts, and God, I've been so bad with my money, as long as I can remember. I'm an overspender. As long as I've been making money, I've been spending it on clothes.

Stefanie O'Connell Rodriguez: But Chloe has a new financial goal. She wants to quit her job and turn her side hustle, running a Patreon-supported book club and media platform, into her full-time business.

Chloe: In order to do that, I seriously need to overcome my shopping addiction, so that I can stash away cash, because as of right now with all the luxury pajamas I purchased in quarantine, it's just not happening.

Stefanie O'Connell Rodriguez: What was your relationship with money like growing up?

Chloe: Even at my very first job when I was 14, I worked at a grocery store, a little produce store, and I was a bagger and I would make $8 an hour cash. And it was directly across the street from a Marshall's. And so after my four-hour shift making $32, I would walk over to Marshall's and buy myself a dress or a pair of shoes with the money I had just earned. I had a savings account as a kid, but I didn't have a savings account really as an adult until this year.

Stefanie O'Connell Rodriguez: And what was the impetus for that?

Chloe: I got married and I had a bunch of checks and I was like, these are probably going into savings because if my husband and I want to buy a house or something, we need to have money for a down payment which isn't even something I had thought of because I've been living in NY for so many years so I just assumed I would rent for my entire life.

And I want to quit my job. So I knew I needed to save money to quit my job so I'd have something to fall back on. And that is ultimately why I made the decision to start saving money.

I really want to quit my job really bad. I work for a software company as a social media manager and I make really good money. The problem is I lay awake at night thinking about this job, because it's so stressful and I don't have a whole lot of passion for it.

Stefanie O'Connell Rodriguez: So with this really clear, newfound motivation, are there any specific strategies you're now trying to put in place or specific tools you're trying to use to help you?

Chloe: I mean, I paid off my entire credit card last night cause I was like, what's the first thing that Stefanie might tell me to do. I still owe, like $60,000 in student loans for my mediocre college education, which is sweet.

Stefanie O'Connell Rodriguez: Are you making payments on those loans?

Chloe: Yeah, I pay $500 a month or 550.

Stefanie O'Connell Rodriguez: Okay. So that's accounted for, and your rent's accounted for, and these other things you accounted for, have you sat down and actually mapped out what your essential cost of living is?

Chloe: No, I haven't.

Stefanie O'Connell Rodriguez: What's the barrier to that?

Chloe: I don't even know where to begin. Like where is there a spreadsheet I should look at? I feel like it's such a barrier for me. I've written myself off as someone who's bad at money. And I feel like that's prevented me from being good at it.

Stefanie O'Connell Rodriguez: I think it's really easy to get caught up in 'I have to pay down my student loans. I have to start a retirement account. I have to do all these things.' And that's incredibly overwhelming. And I would say maybe your first roadblock that you should tackle is just this idea of accepting that you're not bad at money and finding all the places in your life that kind of disprove the narrative, you've told yourself.

Which is like, 'Oh, I'm amazing at making money. Oh, I just paid off. $5,000 of credit card debt in one fell swoop.' Because it's really, really hard to make the numbers on the page work, if you haven't aligned with the thoughts in your head.

If that's the main pain point, how does spending money make you feel?

Chloe: So first good and then bad. I feel like it's like any drug, right? Like you know, I'm someone who usually likes to spend all their money on travel. And then when the pandemic happened and there were no more trips, and there was only hanging out in my house. I started spending just exorbitant amounts of money on things like loungewear, from places like Bloomingdale's and Shopbop. Packages make me feel better when they arrive, but half the time I forget what they are and they sit in their box for a lot of the time.

Oh, I'm just looking at my last impulse purchase right now, which I bought this stationery at the end of January because I walked into a small business and I was like, this is a small business. I have to save them. That's been another big thing. I've wanted to save every small business with my credit card. I didn't need stationery. Even when I walked into the stationery shop.

Stefanie O'Connell Rodriguez: Like the example of the stationery, are there specific spending triggers you can identify when you think back like a way that you feel, or a certain circumstance that you're in that triggers that impulse to spend?

Chloe: Yeah, I definitely shop to cheer myself up. I've had a really, really hard year. I had to leave New York unexpectedly. I had to cancel my wedding. I had to cancel my bachelorette party. I had to cancel my bridal shower. I had to say no to so many trips.

A lot of my friends are still traveling in the pandemic and I'm like, just the person saying no. And so anytime I have to say no to something I'm just like, well, maybe I should just buy myself a present. So I definitely use it as an emotional crutch more often than not.

If I actually go into a store it's so much worse than my online shopping, because I like this high of being able to help a small business, but I ended up spending like $200, $300 every time I go into one, instead of just purchasing one thing and leaving.

Stefanie O'Connell Rodriguez: Do you ever leave the house without your credit card?

Chloe: No, but actually that's a really good idea. I'm good at leaving only a certain amount in my debit card. So maybe actually it would be really smart if I only brought my debit card in any places, because then I'm always limited like, I have like $1K at all times on my debit card that I can use so it's like that would prevent me from spending any portion of that because I don't want to have less than $1K.

Stefanie O'Connell Rodriguez: Even if it was cash. If I only have $40 in my pocket, I can't spend more than that.

Chloe: That's a good idea. I should start bringing cash to the grocery store, even at Trader Joe's. I'm a problem. Do you know they have a beauty section?

Stefanie O'Connell Rodriguez: I did not know they have a beauty section, although yeah I know how it goes. The cheese section at the grocery store is my downfall. It's like, yes, I want the $20 block.

Chloe: Yes, yes, of course. I want the $20 block. I loved buying them. I was buying trout roe and foie gras at the beginning of the pandemic, like girl, buy a bag of chips, you know, like you need to eat your feelings, pick something else.

Stefanie O'Connell Rodriguez: I mean, a lot of this seems like you need to introduce friction into your spending. So like the idea of not having a credit card on you when you leave the house, it doesn't mean you can't spend money. You could spend money a lot of other ways, but it's just more difficult. And I wonder if for online shopping, if your credit card isn't saved into your checkout preferences and you can't one click buy.

That's an added friction for you to have to go, 'I really want to buy the thing,' like fishing out your credit card, going to find it. I know for me, if it's like, 'Oh, I have to go upstairs, get my credit card. No, I'm not doing like that is too much energy.'

Chloe: I did that last week I deleted my credit card off of my computer and it has helped. I've only purchased one thing.

Stefanie O'Connell Rodriguez: Do you like spending money on other people?

Chloe: Love it. I love, I love giving gifts.

It's probably what I've been doing for myself. Showing myself, I love myself by buying myself things but I would really prefer to show myself, I love myself by building up that savings account now.

And then I would have a nice life. I would much rather have a nice life than have nice clothes.

Stefanie O'Connell Rodriguez: And what would it feel like to be debt free and work for yourself?

Chloe: Oh my God, it would be amazing. I love the idea. All I want to do is sit out in the sun and read a book.

Stefanie O'Connell Rodriguez: The fact that you're super clear about what you want, the timeline you want it for, what that looks like, what that's gonna feel like.

I think that's going to help. And I also think what's going to help is if you create a lot of reminders of that for yourself. One of my favorite things is putting my goal as the background on my phone, or a picture printed out and wrapped around my credit cards and my cash.

So that every time I go to spend money, I also see what I'm working towards. And that way it's not like, 'Oh, you can't spend money.' It's just like a reminder in that moment of like, is this gonna help me get closer to the thing I want or push me further away from the thing I want?

Stefanie O'Connell Rodriguez: I think you sitting in the sun and reading a book might be your screensaver.

Chloe: Oh, that's a great idea. I have lots of pictures of that.

Stefanie O'Connell Rodriguez: Yeah. I think that's an image that maybe you can look at every time you go to spend money.

After the break, we're talking more strategies Chloe can use to overcome her overspending with a personal finance author who worked to overcome her own luxury spending habit.

Author and founder of Clever Girl Finance, Bola Sokunbi, used to buy a lot of designer handbags….

Bola Sokunbi: I was making six figures and I had reached savings milestones and achieved certain financial goals I wanted to achieve when I was like, you know what? I deserve something. And so I bought one and then it was like, well, I deserve something else. And before I knew it, it had become this like every couple of months and you had a bad type of habit.

And I started to feel a lot of guilt and remorse about these really expensive purchases.

So in a way I can relate to Chloe, in terms of how she's feeling, but, you know, I kind of figured out how to balance my self reward with, you know, continuing to accomplish my financial goals.

Stefanie O'Connell Rodriguez: Can you talk a little bit about how you got to that turning point?

Bola Sokunbi: So it really, it was one day of realization. I opened my closet and I saw all my hand bags stacked up. It was like money stacked in my closet and I remember telling my husband, 'Oh my God, I have all these stupid handbags. I need to get rid of them.'

It took me maybe like 12 months to sell all the bags I had because I remember every milestone in which I went to purchase the bag. I was trying to make justifications.

There've been so many price increases at Chanel, who would ever sell this bag. I can never find this color. They only made this color once, it was limited edition.

But I really had to do some inner work and say, listen, what is this truly costing you? If you were to have taken this money and invested it, what would you have gained? Why do you have all this clutter? How does it really contribute to your life? Do you really care? Who cares what handbag you have? So it had to do a lot of that inner work to address that aspect of letting go and I was able to do it and I actually am I'm okay now. I'm recovered.

Stefanie O'Connell Rodriguez: So when people come to you with their own struggle around spending, where do you suggest they start.

Bola Sokunbi: I always tell them, when it comes to spending and your finances, you need to give yourself grace and you need to give yourself the opportunity to allow yourself to make progress. And the easiest way you can do this, because it's all about making your life easy, is to automate your finances. Automate your savings. By automating your finances and putting that money in a bank account where you don't have access to it.

You actually give yourself the opportunity to save consistently. And then while that is happening, You can then start to do that self work and start to really dig through. Okay. Why do I overspend? Is it something from my past? Is it something from relationships, something from my childhood, something from who knows what it might be, but by giving yourself that opportunity to do that inner work and just letting your money kind of go to work for you while you know, it's being automated, it can be so helpful in getting you over that hump of I'm so bad with money.

It's important to recognize that spending money is not bad, right?

So looking at your budget and saying, okay, I'm going to designate this amount to my automated savings. And I'm going to give myself this amount to splurge, have fun, go out with my friends, go shopping, and then I'm going to give myself all this other money to go towards my expenses, my other goals, et cetera.

And so knowing that you now have this category in your budget where you can treat yourself or do the things that you want to guilt free, that can also help you overcome those emotions around overspending, or creating your strategy—so binding that automation with giving yourself giving yourself a chunk of money within your budget that's realistic.

Stefanie O'Connell Rodriguez: In our conversation, one thing Chloe came to is, 'Okay, I'm buying all of these nice things, but it's kind of getting in the way of me buying myself a nice life.' I think she's in that turning point right now, but she also said, you know, I'm in my late twenties and I've never built a budget. So I think that can get really overwhelming. Like where do you even start?

Bola Sokunbi: I tell people the best type of budget is the one that works for you.

It could be an app that you like. It could be a pen and paper. It could be a spreadsheet. It could be a hybrid of all three. But the whole idea of a budget is you. As the CEO, you are the boss telling your dollars, your employees what to do. And you want to be excited to check your budget. You want to be excited to assign your dollars work to do, but the only way you can do it is if you like the actual process of budgeting.

So I tell people, go to your app store, download the best reviewed apps—there are tons of them. And then start checking them out. You don't like the color? Delete it. It's not easy to connect your bank accounts? Delete it? You know what 'I'd rather use Excel.'

Don't like this, don't like that, delete it until you get to the point where you've created something that you like, And then when you think about budgeting, you don't have to call it a budget, call it 'because I'm so amazing.' I'm going to build wealth, call it 'because you know what, I'm saving my damn money.'

That word budget sometimes just puts people off and it makes them feel like they're being punished but your budget is not anybody's plan. It is your plan. It's you telling your money what to do.

It's so, so personal. So you have to figure out how you can make it enjoyable and also make it easy. Right? You don't want to be spending 10 hours a day on your budget—a quick five-minute check, three-minute check. Once a day can make all the difference in helping you stay on track.

You know, budgeting is not about perfection.

People get this idea because if you start seeing red, then, oh my God, I'm bad with money, but really your budget is a guide for what you know, to expect. And as life happens, there's some things that you just don't know are going to happen. Like you get a flat tire or you have a healt situation or your child, you know, breaks their arm, flying down the steps, like in my house, you know, things like that, unexpected things, but then you can do your best to plan.

And the whole idea is coming back to reflect. Okay. This budget didn't go quite as perfectly as I was told it was going to go on the internet. So let me look back and see what happened last month and try to readjust it for next month and just pursue progress, not perfection. Take that whole idea of perfect finances and throw it out the window.

Because if it was like that, we would all be billionaires right now. So what can you do to encourage yourself to keep your finances top of mind? Because it doesn't just happen. Does it mean setting, you know, three alarms a day to remind you to check your budget or to review your spending? Does it mean, you know, updating, when I was working in corporate America, I would use my work calendar that had all my meetings and I would set reminders. Personal reminders to check my budget, to check my 401k deposit, to check my payroll deposits, to make sure that they were happening. And sometimes they're annoying, but I set, I set them up in perpetuity so that they would always happen. So maybe it's leveraging technology to remind you. Maybe it's getting an accountability partner, someone that's right, you know, like-minded and really focused on their goals that, you know, will check in to see how you're doing. You know what can you do based on what you do about yourself and how you act to help you keep your finances top of mind.

Stefanie O'Connell Rodriguez: I want to zero in on the idea of other people in this journey with you. Most of us are kind of dealing with like, not the angel on our shoulder, but the devil on our shoulder, which is our friends. I think this is something Chloe is kind of grappling with, as she looks ahead to trying to reel in her spending is how do you manage that social pressure against this change in your behavior, especially when you were the person who was always up for anything? Right.

Bola Sokunbi: I mean, it can be difficult, you know, navigating relationships. A lot of them involve spending money to hang out, but really you have to think about what's most important to you. What's your top priority right now, achieving financial wellness or spending money with your friends?

Anyone who is truly, your friend will understand when they, when you tell them, listen, I can't afford to do this. I'm trying to save. I'm trying to pay my debt, whatever it might be. But also sometimes because of people's influence, sometimes you may have a friend or family member that has a really strong influence on you, or they're just very opinionated.

When you tell them things, you know, it's just difficult to wiggle your way out of a situation with them. And so you don't have to share what you're trying to do with everybody. Right. And I am the queen of avoidance when I was trying to save money, like, you know, oh, let's go out to dinner at 9:00 PM. I texted you at 12 midnight.

Oh my God. I just saw the texts. Did you mean tonight or next week? I'm busy. I have to work. Oh my God. I just got a cat. It needs my help. You know, if they're really difficult people and you, you struggle to their convincing. Oh my God, girl. It doesn't matter. Just come.

It's just this one night. Yeah. Find ways to avoid them. Maybe you can block them on your phone for a few days so that when they text you after it doesn't come through. Right. So you don't know what you have to reply to, but you know your friends, right? And sometimes they can put you in difficult situations.

Stefanie O'Connell Rodriguez: Another thing that came up during my conversation with Chloe, is a lot of it is about showing her self-love it becomes about 'oh, well, you know, me buying this thing for myself is, is an act of self-love and self-care.' Is there a way to kind of get in the way of using money as a crutch?

Bola Sokunbi: So many people are going through this. So you can build your gift giving and yourself gift giving into your budget—within reason.

It's okay to treat yourself if you're making your other accomplishments. If you find that it's part of what's derailing your financial goals, then what other alternative ways can you still achieve that same level of satisfaction from when you get that new thing?

What other ways can you kind of try out to help you realize that. Okay. No, maybe I don't need to buy myself something all the time. Yeah. Could it be giving yourself a bubble bath at home, reading a good book. Sometimes the reward doesn't have to be physical. Especially when you go back into your closet or you go into your kitchen and you see these things that you bought, but you didn't really use, or maybe you don't really like them.

And I've been there this past pandemic. Listen, I was the mom that was guilt buying everything my kids did not even want, wasting my money. I know I can relate. Buying myself lounge wear. I don't even wear leggings. They bothered me so much. Like I feel like they're compression tights.

So I had to really look into, okay, Bola, what is this crap you're buying? Do you need it? Does it make you happy? And figure out other ways to find that kind of satisfaction, that inner peace during this turmoil. Right.

So what can you do? Does it mean using one of those apps to block the shopping websites on your computer while you spend time reading about whatever you want to read about or even reading about how to manage psychology of money and all that stuff. Like what alternatives can you test out to help you manage or create an alternative to spending money?

Stefanie O'Connell Rodriguez: This is really about blocking that automatic association from an emotion to a spending trigger.

Bola Sokunbi: I totally agree. I mean, everything is so easily accessible, right. But if you can give yourself time, it could be seconds, minutes, hours between when you decide to make it a transaction and you actually hit the click or buy whatever it is, button, it can help you make that decision.

So, in addition to the automation and giving yourself the time, spend some time with yourself and write it down. And I highly encourage doing the inner work. You know, it's closing the blinds, getting your cup of coffee, putting on your favorite music, whatever it might be, and just really trying to get in touch with yourself.

Why am I spending money this way? What's happening in my life right now? What's happening in my relationships right now? Well, what happened in my childhood? What money lessons that I learned from my parents? And there's no right answers here. There's no one type of strategy that you have to do.

There are studies that show that the process of journaling, when you're trying to change a habit can really help. So you can have a spending journal. You can have an emotional journal where you write down how you feel. Each time you make a transaction, whether you like how you feel about the transaction or not, you've made it. Write down how you feel and then check in and assess. Okay, when I bought this thing, this is how I felt. And maybe you start to identify trends and patterns about your behavior, and then you can create counteractions, right? So for example, I'll be the scapegoat again.

I used to go to, when I worked in New York City, there was an ice cream shop right downstairs. Right. As soon as I was leaving, going home, I had to stop at this ice cream shop. And I realized I was stopping there because I was stressed. I hated my job. The ice cream was yummy, all kinds of random excuses, but I was spending money and it wasn't cheap. Ice cream was at $10 a day on ice cream.

Right. So. How I did the whole journaling and I realized, wait a minute, first of all, I'm buying a lot of ice cream. Second of all, there's another exit from my job. Right. I started using that exit. I stopped thinking about ice cream because who wants to walk all the way back to the other side of the building to go to the ice cream store?

And it sounds stupid and trivial and silly, right? But that helped me change a behavior that I felt like I couldn't control if I walk past that store.

Stefanie O'Connell Rodriguez: I really love this story because I think it really illustrates how much of our understanding of money has been built around the idea of numbers and spreadsheets, but really, mastering money is about the thoughts and the way our lives and habits are built.

So I love your point about doing the inner work. I love a spending journal that really gives space for these thoughts and feelings in a way that one box on a spreadsheet cannot capture. Because everybody knows that they're supposed to save money, right? Like it's not new information. Everyone knows they should spend less than they earn, but like there's a reason it's not happening. And you can't really get to the reason if you only have room in this like little spreadsheet that doesn't account for all of this complexity.

The other thing that's really come up for her is the system of justifying.

I know I experienced this too, during the pandemic I ordered Christmas gifts from people all from small businesses. I was having the savior complex that Chloe talked about. Like I am saving the small business. and that's just another one example of a way that I think this process of justification gets tied into like this emotional thing that makes us want to spend more. So how do you grapple with that?

Bola Sokunbi: You know, I'm guilty of justification. I mean, I've bought high heels during the pandemic. I have not going anywhere that requires me to put on high heels, really? What did I need to have high heels for? My justification was like, you know what? I've always wanted these shoes and they're on sale. And you know what? There's light at the end of this tunnel.

When the pandemic ends, I can wear the shoes and then I even threw away the box, then the return packaging so that I couldn't return the shoes. So listen, knowing that I've made this mistake now with a pair of shoes I'm stuck with, until I die, how do I stop myself from this useless justification? I try not to even let myself get to that point. So what I did was I went online and I locked all my credit cards. Right. If I cannot spend it, I can't buy the shoes.

So justification is real, but then how do you one, help yourself not get to the point where you even have to justify and two, find ways to just help you create that time to avoid when you decide to buy versus when you actually buy.

Stefanie O'Connell Rodriguez: I think so much of what has come up in this conversation, is how much of this is about really, really knowing yourself, where you really struggle, where you excel and literally building everything in your life around that. And I think that's why it's hard. Right? I think it's hard because traditionally money advice comes in this like one-size-fits-all solution. And the fact is it's totally not because my triggers are not pajamas or high heels, but it's food. Like, all I want to do is order food all the time. But if I only tell you to stop buying takeout, that might not be helpful because your problem is clothes.

Bola Sokunbi: It's also looking at what has been impressed upon you as a standard of life, right? What are the things that you think you should have?

Right. So growing up society, we, there are certain things, especially as women that we're told we need to do, we need to get married at this age, have kids by this age, do this buy your first home by this age, have this amount of money in annual income by this age, but are those are the things that really matter to you or what society is impressing upon you?

So again, going back to that inner work, and what are the things that truly, truly make you happy? And if you are feeling discontented about your shopping, upset about your shopping, emotional about your shopping, then it's clearly not the shopping that makes you happy, that brings you joy. And that really knowing the things that truly help you make you happy, the things she wants to accomplish in your life can really help you get clear on your goals, right?

And then you can prioritize, okay. I want to start my full-time business because I want flexibility. I want to live in Miami. I want to help my parents. I can make 10 times more money and create a legacy that can impact my family, my kids, my community. What is the why behind the thing you're trying to accomplish, having your business. Write it down, put it everywhere. Put it as a post-it note on your computer, on your phone, you know, put it on your dashboard in your kitchen so you see it.

You have to get to that level of clarity and it requires quiet time, and it requires inner work. You have to give yourself that space and opportunity to reflect, and it may not happen in one day. It may be over a period of days, weeks, months, but you have to begin that process to work through all of that.

Stefanie O'Connell Rodriguez: So how do you overcome your overspending? To start, consider the ways you can literally make it more difficult for you to spend money. Whether that means leaving your credit card at home more often, not saving your credit card information into checkout preferences on your computer, unfollowing and unsubscribing from your favorite retailers, or using a cash-only budget while you're out so you literally cannot spend more than you have on hand.

Automating good money habits like bill payments, debt payments, savings, and investments can also help you make sure you prioritize your financial needs first before you get the chance to overspend.

When you don't see all your money sitting in your checking account, you're less likely to think of it as money you have available to splurge with.

Use the extra time and space that comes from automating some of your finances and adding friction to your spending to sit down and reflect on your spending patterns, keeping a spending journal that tracks not only where you spend, but how and why, so you can start to understand the emotions and circumstances that serve as your spending triggers and build a better strategy for managing them.

And remember, spending money is not a bad thing. Buying things you love, whether it's luxury pajamas or $20 blocks of cheese is perfectly fine, as long as it doesn't come at the expense of your financial well being and future goals.

So work to build a spending plan, a budget, an 'I'm going to be rich roadmap' or whatever you want to call it around affording those future goals. And keep visual reminders of what you're working toward all around your life—a picture of your family while saving up for an emergency fund as your phone background for example, or in Chloe's case, a photo of the life she imagines for herself as a business owner printed out and wrapped around her cash and credit cards, so that any time you go to spend money in the moment you also consider the long-term tradeoffs.

Because managing your money is not about sacrificing everything today for the sake of tomorrow. And it's not about saying #YOLO at the expense of your future. It's about making intentional decisions with equal consideration for both.

This has been Money Confidential from Real Simple. If, like Chloe, you have a money secret you've been struggling to share, you can send me an email at money dot confidential at real simple dot com. You can also leave us a voicemail at (929) 352-4106.

Money Confidential is produced by Mickey O'Connor, Heather Morgan Shott, me, Stefanie O'Connell Rodriguez O'Connell Rodriguez. Thanks to our production team at Pod People: Rachael King, Matt Sav, Danielle Roth, Chris Browning and Trae Budde.

If you like what you hear, please consider leaving us a review on Apple Podcasts, or telling your friends about Money Confidential. Real Simple is based in New York City. You can find us online at, and subscribe to our print publication by searching for Real Simple at

Thank you for joining us and we'll see you next week.

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